Category Archive: Comic Review

Jul 27 2015

X-Factor: Happenings in Vegas – Peter David

I used to love Peter David’s writing and saw this as an opportunity to see what was going on in the world of mutants. The main story line had promise, wherein the mutant investigators get involved in some Norse god shenanigans that eventually takes them to Las Vegas, and there’s even a side story of interest where a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress turns out to be suffering from something else entirely. However, everything else about this comic was pretty awful. There’s easily a dozen characters who I know nothing about (in terms of powers, personalities, background, motivations, etc. (and some of the characters I even know, so go figure)) even after reading the collection, lots of plot threads that made me feel completely lost and without motivation to try to find out what was going on, there were a few jokes none of which were funny in the slightest, and the art was so typically everyone is beautiful and all the women have ridiculously impossible bodies that I was simply bored and couldn’t wait to be done. What a disappointment. X-Factor

Jul 26 2015

Kolchak Tales: Monsters Among us!

I only saw maybe a half dozen of the original show, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, or as I called it: The Cheese Stalker as it was so silly only seeing them years after the X-Files, which was inspired by it (I can only imagine how much more dated it is now). But the show was inspirational for its time, recounting the tales of a reporter who always stumbles upon supernatural happenings that he never can get published, so I’m glad to see it back, albeit in comic book form. This collection of two stories about a zombie attack and a monster sighting and the truth behind it, by Christopher Mills and David Michelinie, respectively, aren’t exactly great, but they do capture some of the zaniness of the show and were a lot of fun (I especially liked how Mills has Kolchak dictating his report  into a recorder on a plane full of people who slowly get wrapped up and horrified by his tale). I’d like to see more. Kolchak

Jul 24 2015

Pithy Seedy Pulpy Juicy – Hilary B. Price

Perhaps this would be better recognizable if titled Rhymes With Orange as that is the title of the strips that make up this gag collection. In fact, it is a collection of 11 Rhymes With Orange books. The comic is a fairly typical gag strip with cute, if not detailed, art and often clever and even funny jokes. Still, it is a lot of the same style of comics in one collection and I could only deal so much with the self annotations Price adds (sometimes interestingly when discussing artistic inspiration, sometimes pointlessly when discussing how that specific joke was inspired) to just about every strip. Much better to just read a couple of these a week. rhymes with orange

Jul 23 2015

Sex Criminals (vol. 1-2): One Weird Trick & Two Worlds, One Cop – Matt Fraction

Seeing how incredibly popular and award winning this comic series is, it only made sense for me to want to find out what the buzz was about. The story revolves around Suzie and Jon (yes with a Z and without an H, because that shows how cool they are), who both have a bizarre magical power wherein when they orgasm they temporarily stop time. The plot begins when Jon suggest they use their power to rob an evil bank corporation to pay off the mortgage Suzie’s library owes to the bank. The problem is they’re not alone with their powers, and are now being hunted by those who would keep them in check. Now that we’re on the same page let me go through the various unfortunate reasons why this comic is an absolute pile of garbage. Fraction writes most of the comic with the two main characters, and sometimes even himself, speaking directly to the audience, which might’ve been clever once upon a time, but largely is a sign of laziness and inability to express character or conflict through dialogue or action. He does a fair job going into Suzie’s history, expressing her anger with the evil corporation, only vaguely amusingly called Bankcorp, who she blames for the death of her father, and the fact that it is shutting down her beloved library due to mortgage payments, showing her confusion during her years of sexual discovery and lack of information. This last part is the highlight of the comic as it captures confusion of adolescent years, but quickly undermines itself, as her best friend overwhelms her with misinformation about sexual positions when she starts by saying that she wishes someone had talked to her at an early age, so that she might not have contracted HPV. The undermining I’m speaking of is that this is the first, and only until a bit of a joke page in the second volume wherein birth-control methods are discussed, reference to STI (yes, STI not STD), aside from when Jon jokingly thinks he has HIV–people die from that, this is not a joke (and so why would a kid be wearing a t-shirt that makes fun of AIDs in volume two, I have no idea)–and there’s absolutely no indication that any of the characters are concerned about STIs, discussing such issues with their partners, or means of preventing them (e.g., condom use). Fraction also tries to give a similar backstory for Jon, but it is poorly done, or rather simply uninteresting. Suzie is obviously made a librarian to play with the fetish of the sexy librarian, but it would help if Fraction knew anything about public libraries, such as they are not owned by banks.

Suzie is drawn like an absolute bombshell, which is to be expected in comics, but Jon looks like an absolute nothing, and he wins her over only by reciting the opening lines of her favorite book (what he knew because he wanted to be an actor, a point that is never taken up again, such as why he gave up this dream, how he fell into his bank secretary job, how old he is, etc.), and then they proceed to stay together, presumably only because they share this magical power (and the ability to orgasm non-stop), as they don’t appear to have anything else in common, not that they really have personalities anyway.

Jon is depicted as having various problems (although he keeps getting hot women, so how severe can the problems be?) in that he failed in his career as an actor (again, did he even try? we don’t know) and now is stuck in a bank job he hates and also has various mental and behavior problems and doesn’t want take his medicine. This is the second time in a week that I have read a comic wherein not taking medicine that prevents mental disorders is depicted as a noble thing. I find this kind a statement to be incredibly dangerous and irresponsible. It is also his idea to rob Bankcorp in order to pay the library’s mortgage–because the bank won’t notice that their missing money is being used as payment.

One final note, it is not exactly commonplace that a couple will orgasm at the exact same time, especially their first time together. I just feel that Fraction knows as little about sex as he does libraries, and this entire comic is an exercise in fulfilling adolescent fantasy, which is fine, but not deserving of awards, best-selling status, or critical acclaim. For all its make believe to promote sexual expression, the comic does more harm then good by promoting misinformation or delusions about sex. It’s a fluff piece, making Fraction a Fluffer. sex criminals

Jul 22 2015

Forever Evil – Geoff Johns

Maybe I should start with the positives. This is a story about the super villain Lex Luther, who has no superpower other than genius and egotism. After evil doppelgängers of the Justice League invade our world (the world of The New 52) and declared themselves masters of it, Luther and a small group of B level villains decide to fight back. I do like stories the focus on the bad guys’ point of view, and especially those that involve second string characters. There’s enough action and characterization here to keep me entertained and so I will recommend reading this. However, time to deal with the negatives. First of all, I thought The New 52 was supposed to be a kind of jumping on point for new readers. I’m pretty well-versed in DC mythology, yet there was a lot here where I have no idea what’s going on, so for newcomers I can’t think they’ll be anything but lost. Additionally, there are really two directions to take a story like this in: Either you have it span over dozens of issues or more and allow the hundreds of characters that you pan over in the art and the first couple of issues to all have their say and matter in the overall story. Or, you accept the fact that the heart of the story really only involves a dozen characters and you immediately focus attention on them, so that you can work on character development and tell a good story. Johns try to play both ways, which accomplishes nothing more than wasting the first couple of issues. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Should it have been better? Definitely, and easily done. forever evil

Jul 20 2015

Iron Man: Industrial Revolution – Fred Van Lente

I really wanted to like this comic, but let’s just examine it–note there are spoilers here, but I really don’t think you’re missing anything: The brilliant inventor of the Iron Man robot armor has been outmaneuvered and thrown out of his company by a rival, and his superhero friends don’t want to give him any money because he won’t accept charity (fast forward to when they both given charity (in the form of “investment”) and help him out of a scrap; I’m not sure what the difference is). While living on the streets (because no one is eagerly trying to hire one of the most brilliant people on the planet) he makes friends with the lower classes (i.e., brown people, how’s that for turning cultural diversity into racism?), but runs afoul–completely unknowingly–of a crime syndicate known as The Pride (If you don’t know the Runaways comic this is largely meaningless; next time give some background so it’s not a 100% inside joke.). If the comic had strictly focused on the hijinks between an Iron Man trying to pull himself up by his bootstraps and The Pride trying to foil the “plans” he has for them, this could’ve been a hilarious and really fun comic; instead, it turns into this whole we can save the community by reopening the factory here (wasn’t that the plot to Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo?). Additionally, the portrayal of the Japanese seemed a little racist to me–I could be oversensitive–and I found it irritating that the school teacher love interest is given the job to run a company implying that she’s only a teacher due to lack of opportunity, and not because it is a wonderful and worthwhile career. It also has a very disturbing ending wherein a mentally ill man chooses a life on the street rather than take his medicine. Industrial Revolution

Jul 18 2015

Alex + Ada (vol 1-2) – Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn

The series is slow-moving and somewhat quiet (not a lot of words or actions on a page), which is not a criticism, but I’m still at a loss for how I truly feel about it. Alex is a nice, good looking, guy whose fiancé walked out on him without explanation, and his rather rich, and far too sexually open, grandmother buys him an android. Considering this world is filled with robots, it’s pretty clear this model’s purpose is purely sexual. True to sci-fi conventions, he unlocks her artificial intelligence, making her sentient, and true to the romance conventions they fall in love. I’m not sure what I expected, either the realistic thing would occur and the now sentient, never aging, beauty will run off and live her life: the end, or the fairy tale will occur where they fall in love (what is it about either of them that is appealing beyond physical attraction?) and the story has at least the possibility of continuing. The latter, naturally, had to take place and the story shifts to one that deals with robot rights (another sci-fi convention). I guess there just isn’t enough here that’s new, or different, or exciting to keep me interested. Which is a shame as the writing and art are fine, but as I said, not enough to entice me. I guess I do know how I feel.

Alex + Ada

Jul 16 2015

Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants & My Dog: The Paradox – The Oatmeal

The Oatmeal (AKA Matthew Inman to his friends (and those that read the about the author page)) provides a well produced–with good paper and vibrant colors, even a free poster that someone stole from the library copy I read–book collecting various, on the shorter side, cartoons on different topics. While much of it is quite humorous and the art is silly, which I greatly enjoy, it is a random collection with no unifying theme and that can turn people off. grizzly bears

 

Additionally, I read the short book My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse About Man’s Best Friend, which is worth reading if you have three minutes to spare. There’s not much to it other than cute art and clichéd reminiscing about how dogs are weird, but sometimes that’s enough. My Dog

Jul 14 2015

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – Gerard Way & Shaun Simon

So it seems there’s sort of a post-apocalyptic world, a corporation that controls everything, there are teenage rebels, robots looking for a Messiah, some now dead heroes, and a young girl who may be key to saving us all, and some other characters that are really unimportant, but I can’t really say for sure. In general, please don’t make me struggle to figure out what the heck is going on in a comic. While I like the art of Becky Cloonan, I don’t want to spend every page trying to figure out what people are saying or what is going on or why any of it matters. If Way is going to work on anything it should be on Umbrella Academy. But as for this, forget it. Killjoys

Jul 13 2015

All My Friends Are Dead – Avery Monsen & Jory John

This is an extremely short, in stature and length, comic that plays on the concept of various people and creatures commenting on the fact that their friends are dead (or a pun on the phrase). It’s a sad funny book if that makes any sense to you, and if that does then you would probably like it. Enjoyable, but disappointing that it takes less than two minutes to read the whole book, but the art is very cute, so that is worth lingering over. All my friends are dead

Jul 12 2015

Wraith – Joe Hill

I guess the apple does fall far from the tree, as the son of Stephen King has written a very wordy and really mediocre–at best–horror comic. It seems there’s this guy and he has a car and he takes kids to this evil theme park, but the kids are happy to be there because they get turned into monsters, and these escaped convicts wind up going there, and, whatever, it really doesn’t make any sense and only one of the characters actually has any depth to him. I spent a lot of effort just trying to get my way through this comic and it wasn’t worth it. Avoid it. (The little Post-it notes in the picture are actually from a book underneath this one.)Wraith

Jul 11 2015

East of West (vol one) – Jonathan Hickman

I took the first three volumes of the series out of the library, but I only barely made it through the first one. The world is a future alternate reality wherein three (sort of) horseman of the apocalypse are trying to force Death (the fourth of their number) to join them so the Apocalypse can happen. The comic is filled with shooting, various ridiculous relationships, really bad faux Western genre, and none of it actually seems to make any sense internal to the story itself. I’m sure it is a huge success, and I never want to hear about this comic ever again. east of west

Jul 10 2015

The Extinction Parade (vol 1) – Max Brooks

Did I tell you I loved World War Z (the book that is)? I did and that’s why I like to give Brooks’ work a chance when I find it. but I was disappointed with this comic book about vampires in Southeast Asia that blithely ignore a rising zombie epidemic. Raulo Caceres’ art is both too sexualized and gory to do much of anything for me, the writing is abundant for lack of a better word, as Brooks does not yet have a handle on the comic book medium, and his effort at multiculturalism (his Malaysian setting and term dropping) just doesn’t ring true to me. The plot itself is straightforward and can be seen practically from space to all but the characters (which is understandable, except that if you have a character who does see the problem coming, shouldn’t he at least not be actively part of the problem?). The end result is that I’m obviously disappointed, the series appears to be inspired from what I think was the last episode of Deadliest Warriors (I like that show) and it takes this five issue collection to set up the premise of this series without actually providing any interesting characters. Extinction parade

Jul 09 2015

C.O.W.L. (vol 1): Principles of Power – Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel

Similar to Powers and Top 10, the series is about a Chicago law enforcement division, staffed by super powered and unpowered individuals, focusing on fighting supervillains. The added twist is that this world takes place in 1962, and has more of a grittier feel and deals with issues like labor relations–which makes sense since the acronym stands for Chicago Organized Workers League–(and a little bit about women’s rights, but surprisingly nothing about race). The genre is not a favorite of mine, but it is enjoyable, with interesting characters, and good–if not necessarily original–plot. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of Rod Reis’s art and some of the coloring bothers me although both points are rather subjective. It’s definitely worth looking at. COWL

Jul 08 2015

Shutter (vol 1): Wanderlost – Joe Keatinge

Okay so there’s this girl and apparently she was once this big-shot explorer, but now she’s retired for some reason despite not even being 30, and she lives in this magical world that has some similarities to ours, and she has a best friend and some sort of robot cat which we know nothing about, and her dad’s dead (which is sad, but we didn’t know him), and people are trying to kill her for some reason, and apparently she has some unknown siblings who are also trying to kill her–okay the point is there’s a lot of stuff happening here, but nothing actually happening in the sense of helping us understand what type of the world we are dealing with, who the main character is and why should we care about her, etc., you know, basic plot points. This seems like something I would like, but first I have to have some clue as to what is going on. shutter

Jul 05 2015

A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York – Liana Finck

The intelligent and beautiful Ms. Finck presents us with a largely forgotten part of New York history in the form of letters to the editor of The Forward, and incredibly influential Yiddish newspaper at the turn of–not this last one but the one before–the century, asking for advice. I do have some problems with it, some of the light blue writing couple with light blue drawings, and very sketchy ones at that, don’t always demonstrate her full talent, and some of the comics could be better laid out on the page. Additionally, and I don’t know if this is how it actually worked out, editor Cahan’s replies to some incredibly poignant dilemmas seemed far too brisk. Still, it is an insightful and powerful, if, and forgive the term, brief exploration into a fascinating historical time and the immigrant mindset. I can’t say for sure if this work is for everyone, but definitely want to try to make and eat some schav. bintel brief

Jul 03 2015

The Wicked + The Divine (vol 1): The Faust Act – Gillen McKelvie

Maybe I would’ve liked this comic more if it didn’t read like a set up for the next collection. The premise is that every 90 years 12 gods (who exactly seems to be somewhat random) are awaken in the body of teenagers and they have all sorts of cool magical powers until they die two years later. I suppose it is supposed to be a metaphor for the live fast, die young / fleeting nature of Hollywood fame, but it’s not. Instead you have a collection of very uninteresting characters with one or two humans you are supposed to relate to, and a murder mystery that no one is actually trying to solve. I didn’t actually care about anything until the very end and now I just don’t care enough to keep reading. The wicked and the divine

Jul 01 2015

Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray & Lost Coastlines – Frank J. Barbiere

You can either figure it out from the blurb on the cover or wait for issue four of the first collection, but this series is about an adventurer who can tap into the skills of five fictional characters in order to aid him in whatever quest he is on, often one involving trying to rescue his twin sister’s soul. Honestly, I am not too impressed. There’s absolutely no substance to the characters or plot, making it geared towards younger readers, who, in turn, may be confused by the time shifts in the comic and most certainly won’t get the Lovecraft reference. While Chris Mooneyham art is ok, and Lauren Affe’s muted and few colors provides an excellent touch, the whole work seems like it could’ve been done better as a Kid Eternity comic or just trying to be less of a pulp fiction novel a la H. Rider Haggard. five ghosts

Jun 28 2015

Saga (vol four) – Brian K. Vaughan

It’s been about a year since I’ve read the last volume, but with a straightforward plot line of star-crossed lovers with a child, trying to outwit government forces that are more than a little annoyed about the two quitting their war (being that they’re on different sides and all), it didn’t take much to remind me of the cast of characters and their situation. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed. If I was new to the book I would see nothing to recommend it. Yes, there are some dramatic turns and wrinkles, but the bottom line is that it is a story about a married couple starting to drift apart due to mundane stress. But even that story seems contrived as a desperate attempt to add a new development. The unfortunate truth is that despite having every issue to begin with a splash page that acts as misdirection and ending every issue and with a splash page that hopes to provide a cliffhanger, the story seems to have run out of steam, and for work that I praised wholeheartedly in the beginning, I have no eagerness to keep reading. Saga

Jun 23 2015

Barbarian Lord – Matt Smith

By its own admission, this comic is as much Icelandic saga as it is Thundarr the Barbarian (lords of light, do you remember who that is?); however, the problem is it just doesn’t come together well. I love the cute art, and still have a hard time believing this is not Jeff Smith, but the story tends to be a little all over the place. Don’t give me a lineage with bizarre names, but then settle on the idea that none of that matters and proceed to give people names such as Barbarian Lord. I still can’t figure out if our hero is even that, whether he’s incredibly clever or rather dense, or if some of the hilarious lines are even meant to be funny. It seems like a work in progress, and when it does figure out what kind of a comic it is, I’ll be happy to give it a second look. Barbarian lord

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